Gilgamesh the King

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Gilgamesh the King
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorRobert Silverberg
Cover artistLoretta Trezzo
CountryUnited States
PublisherArbor House
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages320 pp
813/.54 19
LC ClassPS3569.I472 G5 1984

Gilgamesh the King is a 1984 historical novel by American writer Robert Silverberg, presenting the Epic of Gilgamesh as a novel. In the afterword the author wrote "at all times I have attempted to interpret the fanciful and fantastic events of these poems in a realistic way, that is, to tell the story of Gilgamesh as though he were writing his own memoirs, and to that end I have introduced many interpretations of my own devising which for better or for worse are in no way to be ascribed to the scholars".

Plot introduction[edit]

The novel is told from the point of view of Gilgamesh, and is primarily ambivalent about the supernatural elements of the epic. But the events are portrayed in a fairly realistic manner. Gilgamesh is a giant among men and an amazing warrior, even since he was very young. When the king of Uruk (his father) dies, Gilgamesh is exiled by the recently crowned Dumuzi, jealous of his skills and power. When in time Dumuzi dies, Gilgamesh comes back to the kingdom to be proclaimed.

Silverberg afterwards wrote a number of stories for the fantasy anthology series Heroes in Hell describing Gilgamesh's posthumous adventures in the underworld, including the award-winning novella "Gilgamesh in the Outback".


Dave Langford reviewed Gilgamesh the King for White Dwarf #69, and stated that "Silverberg's version is laudable, essential reading [...] but his realistic approach weakens (I think) the theme of immortality. Compare his amazing fantasy The Book of Skulls."[1]


  1. ^ Langford, Dave (September 1985). "Critical Mass". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (Issue 69): 16.

External links[edit]